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The Protests

By Sandhya R. Rao

When Anne W. Pusey '69 was asked if she wanted to stay for a fourth year at the College, she told Associate Dean of Freshmen W.C. Burriss Young '55 that she no longer wanted to be on a campus rampant with protest and unrest.

"1969 was pretty bad and I just didn't want to stay on campus," say Pusey, the daughter-in-law of then-University President Nathan M. Pusey '28.

The protesters of 1969--in their opposition to the Vietnam War, their demands for severance of the University's ties with the Reserve Officers Training Corps and their call for the establishment of an Afro-American studies department--defined a historic, activist era at Harvard.

The protests forced administrators out of University Hall, rallied a campus-wide three-day strike and propelled students--willing or not--into political consciousness.

Radicals, moderates and independents alike were impacted by the activism on campus. And for most steadiest at the time, the unrest defined their college careers, if not their lives.

The takeover of University Hall on April 9, 1969, marked the symbolic start of the student crusade for what some alumni call the last great movement at Harvard. Three hundred stormed the building, evicting administrators and holding discussions in recentlyvacated offices and conference rooms.

"I went in with the first group of students," says Elizabeth M. Harvey '73, who was co-chair of the national students political group, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). "The administration left. That was a very token gesture."

As paralyzed observers, the faculty and administrators tried to persuade protesters to peacefully end the takeover. Speaking through a bullhorn on the steps of Widener Library, then-Dean of the Faculty Franklin L. Ford demanded that all student leave the building.

"Anyone failing to observe this warning will be subject to prosecution for criminal trespass," Ford warned.

Meanwhile, students and faculty gathered in the Yard for speeches and rallies that both criticized and supported the steadiest inside.

Fourteen hours after the protesters escorted the administrators out of the building, the president called in a police force of about 100 officers from local suburbs. They arrived at about 4 a.m., armed with riot gear and ready to use force.

Harvey recalls that inside the building, students were very tense and anxious about threats that the police might arrive.

"Everyone was given a telephone number of lawyers who volunteered to help in emergency," she says.

When the police arrived, students rushed into the halls of the building, chained the doors, held hands and sang songs--including "We Shall Not Be Moved." When the police arrived, they busted into the building and proceeded to beat students, according to Harvey.

The police formed a line on the inner perimeter of the building and beat students with billy clubs as they were pushed outside, says Robert M. Krim '71.

"You could hear screams and see people being beaten," Krim says. "I was black and blue for two months after on the neck and shoulders."

Several students sustained cerebral concussions and fractured bones. The police action sent more than 40 students to the emergency rooms of University Health Ser- voices and area hospitals.

One trooper even reportedly said to a femalestudent: "If you don't stay there, I'll break yourfuckin' skull."

That afternoon, a standing-room only crowd metin Memorial Church and voted to begin a three-daystudent strike to protest the police intervention.No one would go to class.

A few days later, more than 10,000 studentsheld a mass meeting in Harvard Stadium to approvethe strike. Then on April 18, after some action bythe Faculty, a second meeting in the stadium votedto end the strike.

The violent tactics of police mobilized astudent body previously indifferent to the effortsof the fringe SDS. Many graduates say that afterthe police intervention and subsequent beatings,student support for SDS's demands greatlyincreased.

"We had a very strong sense of solidarity forthose who were braver than we were," Morgan D.Hodgson '69 says.

Hodgson, a moderate student at the time, wasinfluenced by the courageous efforts of herclassmates during the takeover and subsequentprotests.

"Most people I knew were supportive and becamemore supportive as the events unfolded," she says.

"I was very supportive of the politicalobjective," Hodgson adds. "I was sympathetic tothe debate of the day, but I was not an activeplayer."

Krim supported SDS actions and imploredmoderate students like Hodgson to join in themovement.

"SDS had been working against Harvardadministration, and [the takeover] was theculmination of that," Krim recalls. "This was themoment of truth. I gave a speech on the steps [ofUniversity Hall] on how moderate students neededto take a stand against the war."

But some student leaders criticized the radicalactions of SDS as well as the unnecessary measurestaken by administration.

"I criticized both the SDS for the occupationand the administration's use of police force totake them out," says Frank D. Raines '71, chair ofSFAC, who delivered a speech on the steps ofWidener during the student occupation. "I did notagree with SDS in most of the issues."

Raines, who was one of the organizers of themeeting held in Memorial Church the day after thepolice bust, also said the actions taken by SDSwere not looked favorably upon by the majority ofmoderate students on campus.

"The occupation drove a lot of SDS membersaway," Raines says. "The meoderate students didnot want a struggle between the students andfaculty."

Although only a small minority of studentsparticipated in this protest, the lives ofeveryone at the College were changed and disruptedby the events.

Most classes were canceled during that monthand student strikes blocked avid learners fromentering the few classes that were still beingheld.

"I was very unhappy because my classes werestopped," says Anne Pusey. "I did not like havingmy learning interrupted."

Pusey, who was an international student fromChina, managed to go to her classes that werestill being held by dodging the protesters.Despite her and other students' commitment, theprofessors did not expect students to do anyclasswork.

"I went to classes," she recalls. "We juststopped reading the books."

Anne Pusey says she did not take a stand duringthe student protests because she was not on campusduring the takeover and was not wellinformed onall the issues, She also found herself in adifficult situation because of her familial ties.

"It was so hard for me emotionally," Anne Puseysays. "I felt the beating was very wrong, but whenyou are not there to see the interaction youcannot make a judgment. My father-in-law took thatstep because he felt that the students were notgoing to leave."

Other students also felt torn--not by studentdemands themselves but by the fervency of thoseoccupying University Hall.

"That kind of rabid reaction does not do thetrick," says former Student Faculty AdvisoryCommittee member Lawrence DiCara '71. "Some feltthat you had to engage in that type of violentactivity."

Weeks after the University Hall takeover, thestudents in the Class of 1969 graduated in aceremony marked by the same activism thatprevailed during the previous years.

Traditional festivities were marred by moreprotest and disruption. Some students worearmbands and white T-shirts adorned with red fistsover their black gowns to signify their support ofthe anti-war movement.

"There was a giddiness and also a real sense ofsobriety at the same time," Hodgson says. "it wassomber. I remember having an armband. I remembersaving my armband and my T-shirt for years."

"Graduation was very emotional. Harvard turnedinto an angury demonstration," Anne Pusey says."Because of that anger, people lost some of thecommon courtesy and happiness of graduation."

DiCara says that although he was only asophomore during the occupation of UniversityHall, it left a "sourtaste" in the Harvardexperience for even the Class of 1971.

"We were the first class to have somenormalcy," DiCara recalls.

Also, students felt disillusioned by theprotest and the lack of commitment to continue thecase.

"[The occupation] happened because the SDS usedit as a tactic to polarize the campus and used itto advance themselves," Raines says.

DiCara says students actively involved in theprotests did not continue their visions for socialchange after graduation.

"The whole reason to get off school early wasto go back home to continue the cause," DiCarasays. "A lot of the students didn't followthrough."

Whether they watched form the sidelines or wereparticipants in the takeover, graduates of thetime say the protests of the April 1969 had asignificant effect on their post-college lives.

"It was a political awakening that carried onafter college," Hodgson says.

Jared K. Rossman says the protests had a greatbearing on his decision to drop out of Harvardduring the 1970s. He became disinterested incontinuing his education at Harvard. Rossman sayshe was thrown in jail during the takeover and wasadvised to seek psychiatric help because he wassinging in his cell.

Rossman says he has no regrets about droppingout of school. Since his first arrest, Rossman hasbeen arrested 15 times because of hisparticipation in various environmental andanti-nuclear protests. Now he is working inCalifornia to preserve the endangered Redwoodforests.

Timothy L. Carden '71 says experiencing theunrest at Harvard has "confirmed the legitimacyand importance of non-traditional politicalactivity.

"The protests increased my respect of theinstitution of free speech in a way that Iwouldn't have acknowledge and understood if Ididn't participate in 1969," Carden says.

Anne Pusey says the protests changed heropinions about the Vietnam War. "I decided thatthe government was wrong," she says.

Graduates also say that the events of 1969convinced them of the power of protests to pushconcerns into the public spotlight.

"I do see that the protest open up the fistsand make [people] see how bad it is," Puseyacknowledges.

The protests had the power to shape ageneration's attitudes and beliefs, according tograduates. No longer was the majority alwaysright, no longer students accept the social norm.

"It made me skeptical of the [majority]institutions as the sole arbiter of justice andtruth," Carden says.

Krim says the events of April 1969 made himaware that the University is an authoritarian bodythat wouldn't hesitate to harm students.

"Yet without the support of the students," hesays, "you can't run a university."Crimson File PhotoStudents rally in Tercentenary Theater aspart of the Three-day strike to protest the policeintervention during the takeover.

One trooper even reportedly said to a femalestudent: "If you don't stay there, I'll break yourfuckin' skull."

That afternoon, a standing-room only crowd metin Memorial Church and voted to begin a three-daystudent strike to protest the police intervention.No one would go to class.

A few days later, more than 10,000 studentsheld a mass meeting in Harvard Stadium to approvethe strike. Then on April 18, after some action bythe Faculty, a second meeting in the stadium votedto end the strike.

The violent tactics of police mobilized astudent body previously indifferent to the effortsof the fringe SDS. Many graduates say that afterthe police intervention and subsequent beatings,student support for SDS's demands greatlyincreased.

"We had a very strong sense of solidarity forthose who were braver than we were," Morgan D.Hodgson '69 says.

Hodgson, a moderate student at the time, wasinfluenced by the courageous efforts of herclassmates during the takeover and subsequentprotests.

"Most people I knew were supportive and becamemore supportive as the events unfolded," she says.

"I was very supportive of the politicalobjective," Hodgson adds. "I was sympathetic tothe debate of the day, but I was not an activeplayer."

Krim supported SDS actions and imploredmoderate students like Hodgson to join in themovement.

"SDS had been working against Harvardadministration, and [the takeover] was theculmination of that," Krim recalls. "This was themoment of truth. I gave a speech on the steps [ofUniversity Hall] on how moderate students neededto take a stand against the war."

But some student leaders criticized the radicalactions of SDS as well as the unnecessary measurestaken by administration.

"I criticized both the SDS for the occupationand the administration's use of police force totake them out," says Frank D. Raines '71, chair ofSFAC, who delivered a speech on the steps ofWidener during the student occupation. "I did notagree with SDS in most of the issues."

Raines, who was one of the organizers of themeeting held in Memorial Church the day after thepolice bust, also said the actions taken by SDSwere not looked favorably upon by the majority ofmoderate students on campus.

"The occupation drove a lot of SDS membersaway," Raines says. "The meoderate students didnot want a struggle between the students andfaculty."

Although only a small minority of studentsparticipated in this protest, the lives ofeveryone at the College were changed and disruptedby the events.

Most classes were canceled during that monthand student strikes blocked avid learners fromentering the few classes that were still beingheld.

"I was very unhappy because my classes werestopped," says Anne Pusey. "I did not like havingmy learning interrupted."

Pusey, who was an international student fromChina, managed to go to her classes that werestill being held by dodging the protesters.Despite her and other students' commitment, theprofessors did not expect students to do anyclasswork.

"I went to classes," she recalls. "We juststopped reading the books."

Anne Pusey says she did not take a stand duringthe student protests because she was not on campusduring the takeover and was not wellinformed onall the issues, She also found herself in adifficult situation because of her familial ties.

"It was so hard for me emotionally," Anne Puseysays. "I felt the beating was very wrong, but whenyou are not there to see the interaction youcannot make a judgment. My father-in-law took thatstep because he felt that the students were notgoing to leave."

Other students also felt torn--not by studentdemands themselves but by the fervency of thoseoccupying University Hall.

"That kind of rabid reaction does not do thetrick," says former Student Faculty AdvisoryCommittee member Lawrence DiCara '71. "Some feltthat you had to engage in that type of violentactivity."

Weeks after the University Hall takeover, thestudents in the Class of 1969 graduated in aceremony marked by the same activism thatprevailed during the previous years.

Traditional festivities were marred by moreprotest and disruption. Some students worearmbands and white T-shirts adorned with red fistsover their black gowns to signify their support ofthe anti-war movement.

"There was a giddiness and also a real sense ofsobriety at the same time," Hodgson says. "it wassomber. I remember having an armband. I remembersaving my armband and my T-shirt for years."

"Graduation was very emotional. Harvard turnedinto an angury demonstration," Anne Pusey says."Because of that anger, people lost some of thecommon courtesy and happiness of graduation."

DiCara says that although he was only asophomore during the occupation of UniversityHall, it left a "sourtaste" in the Harvardexperience for even the Class of 1971.

"We were the first class to have somenormalcy," DiCara recalls.

Also, students felt disillusioned by theprotest and the lack of commitment to continue thecase.

"[The occupation] happened because the SDS usedit as a tactic to polarize the campus and used itto advance themselves," Raines says.

DiCara says students actively involved in theprotests did not continue their visions for socialchange after graduation.

"The whole reason to get off school early wasto go back home to continue the cause," DiCarasays. "A lot of the students didn't followthrough."

Whether they watched form the sidelines or wereparticipants in the takeover, graduates of thetime say the protests of the April 1969 had asignificant effect on their post-college lives.

"It was a political awakening that carried onafter college," Hodgson says.

Jared K. Rossman says the protests had a greatbearing on his decision to drop out of Harvardduring the 1970s. He became disinterested incontinuing his education at Harvard. Rossman sayshe was thrown in jail during the takeover and wasadvised to seek psychiatric help because he wassinging in his cell.

Rossman says he has no regrets about droppingout of school. Since his first arrest, Rossman hasbeen arrested 15 times because of hisparticipation in various environmental andanti-nuclear protests. Now he is working inCalifornia to preserve the endangered Redwoodforests.

Timothy L. Carden '71 says experiencing theunrest at Harvard has "confirmed the legitimacyand importance of non-traditional politicalactivity.

"The protests increased my respect of theinstitution of free speech in a way that Iwouldn't have acknowledge and understood if Ididn't participate in 1969," Carden says.

Anne Pusey says the protests changed heropinions about the Vietnam War. "I decided thatthe government was wrong," she says.

Graduates also say that the events of 1969convinced them of the power of protests to pushconcerns into the public spotlight.

"I do see that the protest open up the fistsand make [people] see how bad it is," Puseyacknowledges.

The protests had the power to shape ageneration's attitudes and beliefs, according tograduates. No longer was the majority alwaysright, no longer students accept the social norm.

"It made me skeptical of the [majority]institutions as the sole arbiter of justice andtruth," Carden says.

Krim says the events of April 1969 made himaware that the University is an authoritarian bodythat wouldn't hesitate to harm students.

"Yet without the support of the students," hesays, "you can't run a university."Crimson File PhotoStudents rally in Tercentenary Theater aspart of the Three-day strike to protest the policeintervention during the takeover.

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